Disability: Doctor in Wales felt shunned by hospitals

Close-up of Georgie

A doctor looking for work after becoming paralyzed in a car accident claimed that hospitals in Wales "didn't want to know" about the special needs of disabled employees.

According to Dr. Georgina Budd, who is certified as an A&E physician, "They wanted someone that could easily and quickly fill the post without them having to do anything.".

She ultimately decided to work as a GP at a clinic that could meet her requirements.

According to health boards, they are committed to fostering inclusive environments.

Dr. Budd, also known as Georgie, spent three years as a clinical fellow in the A. "There shouldn't be a limit because of my disability," she said.

"I've dealt with medical emergencies in the past, and being in a wheelchair hasn't diminished my effectiveness in those situations. ".

But when the time came to look for a full-time job, she claimed there were obstacles.

I've heard from coworkers that I need to consider my career and how I can adapt it to my disability, Georgie said.

I shouldn't need to. I ought to be able to work in the field of specialization I desire. ".

Georgie close up
Georgie claims that when she applied for a job at the hospital, she got the impression that no accommodations would be made for her disability.

Georgie claimed that during one interview, a hospital requested that she work a "trial shift" without pay.

It was all disguised as "so we can see how we can help you," she remarked.

The message that stood out the most was, "So we can see how many adjustments you would need so we can see if it's financially viable for us to change things around for you. ".

"You would think that hospitals are set up for disabled people because they make up a significant portion of our service, but they aren't," she continued.

Georgie in her wheel chair in GP treatment room
Georgie claims that being a GP has given her more freedom to pursue her interests in research, medical politics, and disability advocacy.

She explained that many hospital cabinets are out of a wheelchair user's reach and that some buildings are still inaccessible.

"Able-bodied people have been the foundation of life. I was not built for it, and neither were the other members of the disabled community, she claimed.

Another obstacle is long workdays.

She admitted that getting ready and leaving the house in the mornings took her longer.

"I may not be able to start my shift at 8am like some doctors if I don't get up at a ridiculous hour.

"Ward rounds take place in the morning, so that initially presented a problem.

We are trying to make reasonable accommodations, but it's very challenging to get those changes implemented and to change people's perceptions of disability and a disabled doctor. ".

Georgie standing up at physio
Georgie claims that performing assisted stands during weekly physiotherapy sessions keeps her paralyzed legs in good condition.

Georgie started at Cardiff Medical School in 2009 and is originally from Downton, Wiltshire.

She lost control in 2017 while traveling to a shift at the Glangwili Hospital after a car tire punctured. She veered into a pole at 50 mph (80 km/h) in order to avoid oncoming traffic.

She was 30 years old, paralyzed from the waist down, and believed her professional days were behind her.

composite of two images... on the left showing a wrecked blue car, and the right Georgie in a hospital bed
Georgie was paralyzed after a car accident when she was 30 years old.

She fought hard, though, to finish her medical schooling.

No, the world is not going to end. Even though it's difficult and there are obstacles, I kept telling myself that "my life isn't over," she said.

She remembered her first experience as a doctor seeing a patient in a wheelchair: "She looked at me and. went, "Oh, hello, love.". Do you happen to be a patient?".

"No, I'm your doctor today," she said. "  .

A young Georgie before he accident standing in front of a stone wall and gate
The year prior to her accident in 2017, Georgie traveled to Paris.

After failing to land a job, Georgie changed her specialty and is now a general practice trainee. Georgie finished her medical training at Glangwili Hospital in August.

More flexible hours and social hours are part of being a general practitioner at the T Calon Lân clinic in Mountain Ash, Rhondda Cynon Taf.

A caregiver arrives at her Merthyr Tydfil home at around 8am to begin her typical day.

"I think I could pretty much handle it myself. However, I was slipping because I was so worn out, she admitted.

"Having [a caretaker] in just sort of makes the morning run smoother, allowing me to save my energy and put it into things that I really want to do," the patient says. " .

Georgie in her bedroom getting help from a carer
To "make her mornings run smoother," Georgie has a caregiver visit her at home.

She is a co-chairwoman for junior doctors at the Welsh branch of the British Medical Association, and she is collaborating with Swansea University on a study on the mental health requirements of medical students.

She claimed, "GP gives me the chance to be more active in medical politics and research and still see my patients and have a good impact on them.".

As chairwoman trustee at Adapt Gateway, a mentoring and support organization for people with disabilities, she claimed it also gives her time to advocate for disabled people.

"In a perfect world, any child who wanted to become a doctor as an adult but had a disability wouldn't feel that that was out of the question for them," she said.

Georgie close up
Georgie desires that people recognize the value that people with disabilities can contribute.

She said that would necessitate a "perspective change in society.".

It's realizing that a disability isn't an inability, the woman explained. "I can still practice medicine despite using a wheelchair. ".

To ensure that no one feels excluded, she stated that full accessibility should be the norm in all healthcare facilities.

I want more disabled children to be aware that they have access to opportunities like this, she said.

That it is irrelevant if their legs are disabled. One arm is missing in a consultant I know. Why shouldn't he be? He still draws blood and works as a doctor.

Georgie at the wheel of her van
People were shocked to see Georgie driving again after the accident.

"A lot of what a doctor does is up here," she added, touching her temple.

"I've put chest drains in, I've sutured people.  all kinds of crazy stuff.

"I adapt it for me but I can still do it.  It's just doing it a different way. ".

Georgie spent months in hospital recovering from her accident, an experience she said gives her more empathy for her patients.

"I think that knowledge is something that can really help the medical community," she said.

"Having more doctors that have gone through poor health experiences, chronic illness, disability is important to widening doctors' understanding of what their patients are going through. " .

Georgie in a mirror applying makeup
Georgie says she was "always a girly girl", stressing how a disability does not change who the person is.

She said more understanding of disability was needed in society more generally, recalling upsetting comments she overheard after her friends had to carry her into a non-accessible café.

"We were sat there and this young woman said really loudly: 'Why would she even come here, it's clearly not disabled accessible.  Does she not realise that she's just a nuisance'. ".

Comments like that could be "hard", Georgie admitted, but said they made her more determined to "normalise" disability.

"I can spend the next 60 years miserable because I can't stand up, or I can do something about this," she said.

Several health boards in Wales said they follow an all-Wales recruitment process designed to ensure "fair and equal opportunities for all" and that disabled candidates who meet the minimum standard were guaranteed an interview.

"Only when shortlisting is complete will a candidate's self-declaration [of a disability] be visible, alerting the appointing manager that reasonable adjustments may be required," said Lisa Gostling, from Hywel Dda health board.

Aneurin Bevan health board said it offered disabled staff access to work assessments, aiming to "create an inclusive environment for our staff and patients".

Powys health board said "tailored adjustments will be made, where possible, to roles and/or workplaces through discussion between the manager and the employee".

Betsi Cadwaladr heath board said it "welcomes applications from individuals with disabilities and value all staff".

A Welsh government spokesperson said it expected "all NHS organisations to comply with the Equality Act 2010, and to follow best practice regarding the recruitment and retention of staff".

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